I am broke. Brokety broke broke.
With that all consuming brokeness in mind, the kind a fine mix only cost of living and minimum wage can bring, I think you can understand why I haven’t been anywhere on vacation in a while. Couple years, in fact. I watch my friends take off everywhere from Florida to Monaco, and I loathe the ever loving crap out of them. You know, in an affectionate way.
Thankfully, I’m not alone in this. The other denizens of my household are just as broke, for varying reasons. So every so often, when the daily grind is wearing our brains down to itty bitty nubs, we put our heads together and come up with day trips.
It might not be Monaco, but it works. A road trip for just a few hours brings us anywhere in the area, most recently to Newport, Rhode Island. That’s a bit over two hours give or take, especially if you’re the kind who’s prone to having to turn back fifteen minutes in to get forgotten things like cellphones and cameras, and an ATM stop that no one thought to do sooner. Little things, really.
With the radio and Stephen King short story audio books to accompany us (I Know What You Need and The Moving Finger, if you’re interested), the trip felt fairly short. Once we were in Newport, we had to hunt down a place for lunch. Parking there is, by the way, deadly. If you haven’t been, go there preparing for War. Yes, it does warrant a capital ‘W’. No, I’m not kidding.
Benjamin’s turned out to be the only place we could all agree on after some strolling through the area, mostly because my waifish friend subsists on the strangest of strange diets (bread, cheese, potatoes, tomatoes, and peanut butter are her primary food groups), and apparently not many places there serve french fries. Or anything that wouldn’t send her from the restaurant screaming, for that matter.
After an exceptional round of stuffed clams, followed shortly by an even more exceptional seafood mac and cheese (big chunks of lobster, oh my good crippity Christ it was wonderful), we were off again. Wandering around the area, in and out of candy and gift shops, picking through and being amused by all manner of random. I still have Non-Buyer’s Remorse from that Indian silk scarf that was ocean colored, shiny, and just so very soft. But I digress.
Then we were off to the Mansion District, throwing ourselves into a vast wasteland of opulence and a few houses that looked like they’d been uprooted from the Shire and Super Sized. I still wish I’d asked to stop and take a picture of those, but I was too busy staring in dumb wonder. I’m sure many come to the area and take the tours for a reason, but just driving through, I couldn’t understand it. The size, the necessity, any of it. Presumably I’m not meant to.
Except for the Hobbit holes. I got that. I just want to know how they got them there. Is Gandalf a contracto– I’m drifting.
Here, my friends, we come to the crux of the thing. It’s taken me the first twenty five years of my life to even begin to learn how to mellow. These little trips do worlds to nudge me further down that line. I got to take my camera out and take a bucketload of pictures. I didn’t even lose it when I figured out that somehow, some way, I hadn’t checked to make sure my memory card was in the camera when packing up, and the first thirty shots were thereby lost to the ether. I mourned briefly, laughed it off, and moved on. I knew there’d be more moments to take more pictures, and there were.
I even got to throw some subjects (my friends) in the mix, which I don’t normally get to do. You can see a pile of those here, including some of my aforementioned waifish friend. In between my snapping shots and their carefully making their way through the rocks, we’d all sit and watch the waves. It was peace, and not remotely the kind you get from sitting on the couch at home.
On our way back, we passed a sizable park where families were camped out on the grass with their kids, just flying kites. Who the hell does that these days? I thought it was fantastic. We stopped for another slew of pictures, chatted with awesome elderly hippie running the ‘Kite Store’ trailer that was set up with a giant dog kite less than four feet away. Poor thing couldn’t catch enough wind, the way it was drooping you’d think it had down syndrome. The kids still looked thrilled, and few parents seemed harried, if any. It was just a perfect summer day, and the outside world seemed to be taking a walk for a while.
After that, tired but happy, we were through. The Mangler took us through the ride home, where our dogs were positively hyperventilating with joy to see us, and back to the real world. I’m more than ready to do it again, and I highly recommend it to you. You can fit a lot into a day trip, even if it’s just a lot of relaxing. So break open a new tab on your browser, fire up the almighty Lord Google, and try typing in ‘Best of “apply state/region/etc here”‘. See what happens. If it’s a few hours away, and you’re just sitting in front of your computer sliding down the social media rabbit hole, what’ve you got to lose?